Baltic VHF expedition 2006
As during previous expeditions we try to keep you up-to-date with what's going on during our expedition. Read the diary in reverse order - latest update first.
Another boring morning sofar. Just 3 QSOs until now (8z) with bad reflections aswell. Will close down everything around early noon to pack all equipment for our trip back home tomorrow. Will start early after breakfast ... 1200 km to go. So we won't write anymore updates to the website except uploading log updates this afternoon or evening.
So a big THANK YOU everybody for all those QSOs. You made it once again worthwhile to "sacrifice" summer holiday and spend that much time on the radio. Every single QSO was much appreciated and we hope we could provide 1, 2 or even 3 new squares to many of you. Any feedback will be very welcome - use our German callsigns at necg.de for email ... Now have to decide where to go next. ;-)) Greetings from all of the crew ...
Haven't done too much today. 6 m was closed all day long. Are teaching WSJT to Heiko - seems he likes it a lot although it can get quite boring when reflections are down. Also did the first JT65 tropo contacts. OH2HEJ was just too near for MS but tropo sigs were down in the noise. So JT65 helped to provide him a new one. Besides that MS condx were rather bad with only a few QSOs ...
Back from KO34! Was quite a lot of fun to operate. As we expected it didn't take long for the border patrol to find us - we were just set up for about 30 minutes until we got visited. Well, explained what we were doing in Russian, English & German ;-) and phoned Tadas, LY2BAW, who talked to the border patrol on the telephone aswell. After that all was okay and we could stay that close to the border zone. But little Heiko rather wanted to get arrested as one of the border patrol was a really really nice girl. ;-))
Otherwise we had a short 6 m opening lasting about 100 minutes yielding in 100 QSOs. It was extremely nice to hear 6 m oldtimer SV1DH jumping off his chair getting a new grid square. ;-)) For the rest of the time 6 m was closed - a pity, could have given KO34 to many more people ...
2 m MS was "horror". ;-)) The pileups were really tremendous! Right after the start we were called by > 20 stations at once producing up to 30 reflections per period! As you can imagine it gets really really hard to decode anything then! What you see on the sreenshot is not one single long burst but 36 different reflections going into each other! We never before saw WSJT decoding 3 different callsigns on one single line! We had to be really quick with looking through the decodes to get things sorted out. So it was a real "pleasure" when reflections got worse after the first hour and we just had to look through 6 or 7 decodes. ;-)) Later on reflections got really bad with QSOs lasting > 20 minutes at times.
Sorry to all those who couldn't get through! As you can see from the heard list (see online log) that were a lot of guys. And also sorry to those not completed. In times of very good reflections we gave 10 minutes to everyone to complete as we had several reflections from those guys in every period. When reflections got worse we extended that period to 20-25 minutes depending on distance and actual reflection rate. We think that has been a fair solution. We are also proud of working to all directions (see online log) to give everybody a fair chance for a new grid square. We were calling CQ to the East for about 20 minutes in total without any response - sorry guys in UA3. And it was a real pity that we couldn't use the bigger PA - that surely would have helped to complete QSOs faster. Speaking of amplifiers: our first QSO with DF2ZC was completed in 2 minutes using just 25 watts over here - we simply forgot to switch on the 100 W amp. ;-))
Positive news! We found another spot in KO34BX thanks to the help and tips of Tadas, LY2BAW. The location is not what we would call a good one but anyway, it is in KO34 and should be sufficient enough for some 2 m MS and 6 m ES. We will be there on Saturday, June 24, starting around 07ut and staying at least for 6-7 hours. If conditions/reflections are good enough we will stay there longer if possible. As we only have a limited time slot we will try to work as many as possible of course! We probably won't have DX cluster access there so all those "please turn to xxx" comments are useless! We will try to rotate antenna as much as possible to give everyone a chance but please understand that we can't serve everyone especially in remote locations. We know it's not really fair but in our mind the only solution due to the limited operating time there. We can't stay there over night due to security reasons - this location is aswell just 200 m away from the border zone - so keep your fingers crossed that we don't get in trouble! And ofcourse we will kindly support anyone with information who wants to go there in the future to activate this absolutely rare grid square ...
What else to report? MS conditions on 2 m were worse than ever experienced today. :-( We started as early as 03:50z with MS but just managed to complete 6 contacts with another 6 NC-QSOs during the day despite much time calling CQ without response (no reflections). :-( On the other hand our 70 cm EME sked with DL9KR this morning was completed in a few minutes again, no problem at all using good old CW mode. Ofcourse one has to consider that '9KR is one of the biggest stations in the EME scene. We cannot do any more EME now as we simply can't see the moon anymore for antenna direction finding (we have new moon now).
And besides all this we managed the first ever 6 m QSO from KO34 between LY/DH8BQA/m in KO34BX and LY/DG1BHA in KO35CI. ;-)) To our sorrow 6 m was closed during our evaluation trip there today otherwise we could have made some more contacts already ...
Did move forward from KO23 to KO35 yesterday. Equipment is all set up now and we had a small 6 m opening today resulting in about 100 QSOs. Also did the first MS contacts on 2 m this afternoon.
On the trip up here we passed the small part of the country which is in KO34. To our sorrow most of it is deep forrest. :-( There is one point on our map material which should be free all around and high as well. When we went there yesterday we saw the spot is not accessible - it is directly at the borderline between Lithuania and White Russia and road access to this spot is strictly denied - border zone. No chance at all if you don't want to get arrested by military police. :-(
But anyway, we found another small location which could be accessible and have some free take-off for MS at least. We'll do another excursion there tomorrow to see what it is like and if we can talk to the landlords if needed. Otherwise there is a small parking lot right at the A4 highway which is partly in KO34 aswell but again down in the forrest. We are quite sure the spot is absolutely not usable for amateur radio due to the sourrounding forrest despite some security issues on the highway. :-(
But we do not give up hope and look forward to some more positive news tomorrow - stay tuned! Otherwise we are enjoying ourselves although temperatures are at the 32°C mark over here - feeling like cookies in an oven. ;-))
Seems we are not that lucky this time. After all the trouble with the 6 m amp the switching power supply for our 2 m 350 W amp died. We examined it and finally found the fault but no chance to repair it over here. :-( So we have changed to reserve PA and power supply meaning we are doing relatively "QRP" now with 100 W. Nevertheless we got quite good reports on Meteor Scatter this morning despite rather poor reflections so it should be okay for the rest of the expedition.
The "Magic Band" was widely open today bringing the QSO total from KO23 to over 600 QSOs! Quite a lot of fun. ODX being K2MUB in FN21OR being 6.895 km away!
2 m opened up again via Sporadic E but no real opening over here. We had a weak 5 minute opening to Italy yielding 2 contacts. 15 minutes later calling CQ we were answered by EA6VQ for a new 2 m expedition ODX (2.253 km) who was 59+20dB. We heard him for about 15 min overall. Another 2,5 hours later we had a short 1 min opening to northern Italy again for another 2 QSOs.
This has been our last activity day from KO23DX. The 2 m station is dismantled as we will leave for our next expedition stop early tomorrow morning. So don't expect any more MS activity tonight. Sorry to all who were not able to work us. I still have 20+ callsigns on my list who called us but could not be worked (they did not call long enough, reflections worse later, a.s.o.). So it seems there still is enough potential for another future expedition to KO23 ...
Problems with 6 m amp solved as good as possible. Uwe, DL3BQA, was playing around in the IARU 6 m contest this weekend using his Lithuanian callsign LY2AAM but conds were rather variable during the contest. But got a very nice 6 m opening this afternoon and evening so roundabout 250 QSOs on 6m done sofar ...
Had built up a small 70 cm EME station (100 W + 21 ele F9FT) this morning and worked DL7APV on JT65C. Needed almost 1 full hour to complete not because of weak signals but rather due to the frequency drift of our IC-7000 on 70 cm. It is dead rock on frequency on 2 m but shifts about 100 Hz during TX periods on 70 cm. That's quite hard stuff for the WSJT decoder. But after that had a very easy QSO with DL9KR on CW. Jan was armchair copy and completed in just 8 minutes. Could have been even faster if we were not using 2 min periods. ;-))
Weather has changed, we had rain here almost all afternoon and evening together with heavy thunder. So had to take down the 70 cm station again (PA right at the mast and not waterproof) and disconnected whole 2 m station aswell. Were visited by local hams from Druskininkai (see picture) and had a very interesting discussion. After that during the above mentioned 6 m opening good old Dave, G7RAU, called in to tell us 2 m was open via Sporadic E from U.K. to the Baltic region! Although still thunder we connected the 2 m station again to work G8LHT and G4CBW via ES. Then silence while the band was still open between YL and G. About 20 min later GM4CXM called in and briefly heard G3UTS calling us but QSO not complete, sri. Inbetween we heard all BBC channels on 3 m BC FM band, quite funny aswell. ;-) As there is still some thunder and S9+20 statics at times everything is again disconnected so chances are small to do some more Meteor Scatter this evening. Anyway, log is updated, see "Online Log" link on the left ...
Tomorrow will be our last activity day in KO23DX. Will take down all equipment late evening and leave to KO35 (+34+36 if possible) on Tuesday after breakfast. So hurry up if you still need the square ... (will be back again on 2 m MS during the morning).
We arrived here yesterday. Journey was quite well, had a better route through Poland than in previous years. Weather is wonderful in Lithuania, we've got blue sky and 28 °C max temperatures. Have been visited by our good old friend Vidas, LY2SA, today. Stations for shortwave, 6 & 2 m are all set up here in KO23DX but we have some trouble with the 6 m amp. Besides this 6 m is quite closed here. Seems we should have left our "Mr. No Six" Uwe, DL3BQA, better at home. ;-)) But 2 m MS is working very well, the pileup's are tremendous ... would not believe that there's still so much demand as we have been here in 2002 already and worked a lot of Meteor Scatter ... but anyway, will do our best to give out a new one to as many as possible of course ...